IT would be difficult to find a cooler way to welcome in 2011.

Hundreds of intrepid fundraisers across Hampshire were sure to get rid of any effects of the night before when they braced themselves for an icy dip in the name of charity.

From Batwoman to a Dalek, people of all ages braved the annual plunge in the freezing sea to raise as much cash as possible for more than 20 charities.

The Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Roger Allen, marked the start of the popular Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service’s annual plunge before more than 200 daredevils, shivering behind the start line, braved the Solent.

Watched by more than 2,000 spectators on the Lee-on-the-Solent foreshore, the fancy-dress clad dippers dived and dunked their way into the chilly 4C waters, raising lots of cash for a number of different charities as they went.

A team from Gosport Football Club even managed to stay put long enough to have a game of ball with a brave dog that had jumped in for some of the New Year action.

The cheering crowds were also treated to a rescue demonstration by HM Coastguard helicopter and boats. After the dunk, the hardy fundraisers had access to warm showers thanks to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. But some even went back into the sea for a longer dip.

The event has so far raised more than £2,500 for the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service and it is thought thousands more has been raised for the other chosen charities.

Lifeboat station secretary Keith Thomas, said: “We aren’t exactly sure on the number of participants but it was definitely more than 200.

“A huge crowd turned out again to watch the swimmers and we are really pleased how the day went. We warned all the swimmers about how cold the water was and thankfully everyone stayed safe.”